Brighton, Britain (UK)
Richard File’s journey into music began aged seven, when he heard a boy a few years above him at school play a track that he had composed on a synthesiser. “I was captivated,” says Rich, “I can remember the song to this day. He showed me that you didn't have to be Michael Jackson to create music. It was open to anyone."
It was in a far less innocent environment, however – among the early 90’s hardcore and D&B scene in Hackney - that Rich decided to make music his career. James Lavelle, who he met through a mutual friend, had been quick to spot Rich's talent and signed him to Mo'Wax at 19. Rich became a key part of the Mo’Wax fold, releasing music under different aliases and DJing at the influential club night Headz.
His first direct collaboration with Lavelle was on ‘Be There’, feat. Ian Brown in 1998. It was the start of a working relationship that spanned a decade and saw Rich collaborating with some of the biggest names in music, from Brian Eno to Josh Homme. As part of Unkle, he scored the soundtrack to cult UK movie Sexy Beast and remixed artists from across the musical spectrum, from Japanese krautrockers Boredoms, to Palm Desert’s finest exports Queens of the Stone Age. As well as writing and producing the albums Never Never Land (2003) and War Stories (2007), Unkle performed live all over the world to audiences in their tens of thousands.
It was while Rich was recording War Stories at Rancho de la Luna in Joshua Tree, that a chance meeting with Wendy Rae Fowler at a party began another transatlantic creative spell. Rich left Unkle in 2008 to concentrate on the new project and in 2009 the pair released their debut album as We Fell To Earth.
Tracks from their self-titled album got licensed to the hit US TV shows CSI:NY, Gossip Girl, Numb3rs and The Prisoner. We Fell To Earth toured with The Big Pink and Air, and at the end of 2010 was invited to write the theme for AMC's hit series The Killing. When differences with their label forced an untimely hiatus for the band, File moved backstage, to produce tracks for Wendy Rae Fowler’s new act Katie Cruel, and Mercury Music Prize nominees, The Invisible’s sophomore album (Ninja Tune, 2012).
Just as he began wondering what to do next, in January this year, a twist of luck put Rich – who has forged an illustrious career from adopting aliases – back in touch with his real name. Rich received an email from Michael Mann’s people, who had heard a track ‘In Time’ by Rich File. It was a long-forgotten recording written for a film, and labelled hurriedly with Rich’s own name. They wanted to use it for a new HBO drama starring Dustin Hoffman called ‘Luck’, and it is now featured in a number of the show’s trailers and end titles. “It felt like a tap on the shoulder," says Rich.
So began Richard's journey as a solo artist; his first recording, a stripped-back interpretation of the grandiose Moody Blues classic 'Nights In White Satin' (2012). It's a fitting contrast, for Rich's music exists on a taught line between high drama and serenity. His melancholic songwriting style is matched with syncopated rhythms played out on guitar and synthesiser, and his audio references range from Brian Eno, J Dilla and Manuel Gottsching to Aphex Twin’s Ambient Works. The elements combine to form Rich File’s signature: hypnotic, atmospheric, vast-seeming sound.
When asked where he plans to take this, Rich answers with a blithe smile, "I can't tell the universe what to do." It's a sense of calm readiness that befits a man who composes his work before a wide expanse of sea. Rich File can be rocked by the stream and hear the tide in his song. In his words, “There’s definitely that ebb and flow."